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Dancing on a wire, an act requiring concentration, balance and the charisma of a clown.

Between the circus crowds and performer Sarah Schwarz, there is only one thin wire. But this veteran performer doesn't need much else. She dances out to the spotlight wearing a bowler hat and a disarming, puckish smile, tugs with one hand on a low-wire strung taught across the ring, and a high note sounds out under the big top. Another pluck of the wire, and it becomes a guitar. Each move Schwarz makes — each tug on the wire with a foot, a hand, the bump of a hip — produces a slow, bluesy note that becomes a melody, a song. Schwarz slinks along the wire, balancing her body on one hand, and making the music come alive with each leap and turn and feat of balance and dance.

Schwarz choreographed the tightwire act, "One String Cadenza," and debuted it in the Play On! season. It took about a year to put the piece together, and she worked closely with Big Apple Circus Musical Director and Conductor Rob Slowick and guitarist Jeff Barone.

"There was a complicity with Jeff. It felt like a duet," says Schwarz, who's been performing on the low wire since she was 14 years old in Germany.

"In order to dance on wire, you're working on a different rhythm (than traditional dancers)," says Big Apple Circus Founder Paul Binder. "(Sarah's) blending two crafts: dancing and tightwire walking. She's got an incredible spirit and this joyous energy when she's working. The audience feels that and is transformed by it," Binder says.

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